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Islam

Appeal to the Shiites: Integrated not Hegemonic

Creative jurisprudence. In his Testaments Muhammad Mahdi Shamseddine produced a general vision of Islam that is characterised by clemency and moderation. And he called on the Muslim faithful to belong to the world in order to contribute to the construction of a civil state that would defend the complex components of society.

Imam Shamseddine restored to Islamic jurisprudence a creative and vital role by imagining a new convergence between the constants of the Law and the new realities of modern life. Shamseddine was a complete jurist (mujtahid mutlaq), a rare characteristic over recent centuries when juridical energies have been generally directed towards the branches of law alone and not to their foundations and have followed in general a single legal school of thought. Differently from this approach, Imam Shamseddine adopted the method of comparative jurisprudence relating to all the seven legal traditions and did not confine himself to the (Twelver Shiite) Ja‘farite school alone. In addition, he was the first thinker to address questions which had been neglected for a long time, such as environmental law and civil law, and he also addressed certain critical questions such as the law relating to women, to armed violence and to the theory of power in modern Islamic political communities.

 

 

Characterised by a sort of ‘pride of reason’, Shamseddine did not seek cheap popularity. In his Testaments (al-wasâyâ)[1] he developed a general Islamic vision based upon a clement and moderate Islam. Clemency is here synonymous with indulgence and openness that leave space for the other who is seen as an equal partner even though different in the equation; whereas moderation implies control of all of the parts of the equation and a conscious choice in favour of justice and fairness. This kind of Islam trusts the faithful and calls them to belong in a constructive way to the rhythm of the contemporary epoch and to participate in an effective way in the construction of the future, creating a valid alternative to withdrawal or implosion within the walls of one’s self.

 

 

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[1] Testaments was recorded live shortly before the death of Imam Shamseddine in 2001. This work was published by his oldest son Ibrahim with Dar an-Nahar (Beirut, 2002) and has been translated into French, English and Spanish (Presses de l’Université Saint-Joseph, Beirut, 2008).

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